New to the industry - where the frack do you start? ~ Sounds + Food 'n' Retail

The world of food and retail is huge, HUGE! That is what I'm finding out as I subscribe to rss-feeds, look at possible books, and think about specialists I want talk to, as well as possible locations to start. 

My plan (version 1), which I linked to several times now, is to evolve in stages: start with gathering all kinds of information—from desk-research and people, gain some experience in the industry, write a good business-plan, etc. etc. 

I say it is a HUGE enterprise, but it is FUN also, to be all-consumed by an area, as that's what they call a fulfilling job. Ok, but let's get pragmatic.

Obviously, it is impossible to do everything. At some point you will have to choose, restrict yourself to your competencies, outsource / delegate the rest. 

In my research- and planning-phase, I am looking at following areas:
  • Catering and retail-news and tips - I find that both fields share a lot of the same characteristics and will likely integrate principles from both of them. I will be adding the best of them to my link-roll on this blog.
  • Business-news - I don't really discriminate against what companies are being written about. For instance, when Katsuaki Watanabe from Toyata says: "We've never tried to become number one in terms of volumes or revenues; as long as we keep improving our quality, size will automatically follow;" I think that is perfectly applicable to what I want to do. Similarly, I try to look at specific fields like marketing, finance, logistics, innovation, etc. holistically, under the umbrella of what the strategy should be, and thus just take notes of what I consider relevant in any field.
  • People: This a broad field, so many people out there. Here, I tend to progress in two ways, the direct and the indirect. Directly, I have a few contacts, which I am and will be contacting, that have experience in the field of catering. Indirectly, many of my friends are specialists in fields that I need to know more about and they can consult me on relevant issues and data to gather. 
  • Work: This is important. I have already worked in this world, as an entertainer, as a barkeeper, in sales and marketing, and in event-management. But I will still have to find a position to gain a lot of relevant experience, while I'm preparing my business-plan. It's a choice, based both on internal capabilities and interests, and external ones—which is the best company, the best location, the best position, to gather the most relevant info? Making the wrong choice here, can result in a lock-in, meaning you can lose months or years in the wrong place, and not learn anything.
  • Location: This is also important, but should be done very slowly. For a new entrepreneur, I think it is better to start in a place where you can make a lot of noise, and not be crushed by the competition. Deciding this depends on both visiting as many places as possible, doing extensive market-research, and—very important—finding the right match between what type of place you want to set up and the location.
  • Investors: apparently they are people too… no, just kidding. In the near future, will be writing a piece on the financial ecosystem, as I understand it. What is important is to find people that can add value beyond the financial kind. That means experts, and people that can handle the risks associated with starting a business.
  • The Type of Place: I've left this for last (though this is not an exclusive list), because I still need to work it out. Ultimately this will shift everything else into one line. Deciding whether you want to open a cafe, bar, restaurant, or club in catering, or a supermarket, corner-shop, specialist-shop, etc. in retail, not to mention the type of good you want to sell, will make a lot of things clearer, as far as preparation, location, and people goes.
Ok, I hope this sheds some light on how messy beginnings always tend to be. Personally, it helped me to write out my freak-outs as I then start thinking about it logically. I hope it helps other people too. 


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